JOHANNESBURG – Peter Shalulile scored deep into stoppage time to ensure that Mamelodi Sundowns began the post-Patrice Motsepe reign with a win after they defeated Stellenbosch FC 2-1 at a scorching hot Danie Craven Stadium yesterday afternoon.
Motsepe, the outgoing Sundowns president, is expected to officially hand over the reins to son Thlopie in the next few days after being elected as the new Confederation of African Football (Caf) president during the federation’s 43rd ordinary and elective assembly in Rabat, Morocco, on Friday.
The Brazilians, though, came into the match already high on confidence after trouncing Polokwane City 4-0 on Wednesday in the Nedbank Cup last-16, few days after a historic away win over TP Mazembe in the group stage of the Caf Champions League.
Full-time in Stellenbosch! The Brazilians show great character to come back from a goal down to secure all 3️⃣ points at the death! 👆
— Mamelodi Sundowns FC (@Masandawana) March 13, 2021
With this result, Sundowns remained at the summit of the Premiership standings with 39 points, four ahead of second placed Golden Arrows who’ve played two games more. Stellenbosch, meanwhile, are ninth with 21 points, four behind eighth placed Cape Town City.
Sundowns’ trio Denis Onyango, Themba Zwane and Gaston Sirino were the only three new faces to the team that hammered Rise and Shine to set up a date with Orlando Pirates in the quarterfinals of the Nedbank Cup on Thursday, April 15.
Sundowns started well, making inroads into Stellies’ final third but the home side was resolute in defence. The champions, though, should have taken the lead after the 10th minute but Rushine De Reuck put his glancing header over the crossbar from a Lyle Lakay corner-kick.
De Reuck who was making his league debut for the Brazilians, slotted alongside captain Ricardo Nascimento in Sundowns’ defensive heartbeat. De Reuck and Co. nearly trailed for the first team since the 3-2 win over Stellies in the Nedbank Cup early last month.
After a scramble inside Sundowns’ box, Stanley Dimgba won possession, and positioned himself before hitting the empty stands – with the goalmouth at his mercy. The Nigerian, though, would ensure that Stellies drew first blood against the Brazilians, again.
After benefitting from a loose ball outside Sundowns’ box, Ashley Du Preez unleashed a thunderbolt that fortunately found Dimgba amid traffic, which was defending Sundowns’ goalmouth. The latter turned before hitting a hard shot that beat Onyango at his near post.
It was a well-deserved lead for the home side who dominated possession with their tireless running, showing signs of being accustomed to the heat of Winelands. Stellies went into the break and 45 minutes away from their first win against Sundowns after five meetings.
Stellies should have doubled their lead early in the second half, but Du Preez unceremoniously put his close-range shot wide off goal. But Sundowns punished the home side for their wasteful acts, finding the equaliser through a well worked team goal.
Zwane linked up with Lebohang Maboe whose silk chip found Peter Shalulile who was in front of goal. The Namibian sold his marker a dummy before laying off the ball for Gaston who calmly slotted past Sage Stephens and into the far post.
Shalulile, though, pounced with virtually the last attack of the game, rising the highest in the box to head to the far post from a well-executed delivery from substitute Aubrey Modiba. Well, Motsepe might be stepping down but the same outstanding Sundowns team remains – it seems.